A former Super Eagles defender, Bright Omokaro, has advised Nigerian footballers to aspire to be the world’s best. The ex-international nicknamed 10/10 believes that Nigerian players can be as good as the very bests of Europe if they remained focussed and be professionals to the core.
Omokaro who spoke with News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday said that Nigerian players, in both international and domestic leagues, could aspire be the winners of such award as the Ballon d’Or.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portuguese forward and Real Madrid winger, won FIFA’s World Best Footballer award for the third time on Monday. Ronaldo emerged as Europe’s top scorer with 38 league goals and also scored 13 champions league goals in 2013/2014 season, beating Argentine Lionel Messi to the award.
Omokaro said that the only way Nigerian and African footballers could achieve the feat was for them to have attitudinal changes.
“Once this occurred, there would be progression. The African, or should I say Nigerian mentality towards professional football, is very poor.
“Once they perform very well for a particular period of time and are praised, they become complacent and do not bother to keep improving. They are happy to keep revolving in one level, while other players are searching for a way to advance and become all-time greats,” he said.
Omokaro also noted that another key area toward attaining such important level in a footballers’ career is through hard work and persistence.
“Ronaldo could have easily backed down when Messi won it back-to-back for four years. If he had adopted the Nigerian mentality and remained static – not improving himself, he would have lost out.
“But he was determined to get the award again and he did not stop at that; he still beat Messi again and his success story should be a motivation for every footballer,” he said.
The former defender emphasised the importance of determination for any sportsman and woman to get to the peak of his or her career.
And in an interview on Tuesday, another Nigeria ex-international Victor Ikpeba told The PUNCH that part of the issues militating against the full development of Nigerian players in their professional football career was their penchant to quickly go abroad when they are not quite ready and also the desire to chase money rather than the teams that would give them the best opportunity to become great players.
He said, “They go to countries like Ukraine, Bangladesh, Cyprus, and so on, all for money. What Nigerian players are pursuing now is money. They are not looking for ways to better their career. They don’t have ambition to play for big clubs.”